To the uninitiated, Dave “Dixie” Collins can easily be perceived as a scary guy. Known for making crazy Manson eyes on stage and accidentally shooting his big toe off while cleaning a shotgun, he’s certainly not a hippie death cult leader lacking in firearms safety skills. What Collins has accomplished is surviving 25 years in the music industry without compromising a damn thing.
Collins joined proto-sludge pioneers Buzzov*en on bass in 1997 and stayed for three years as their reputation for dangerous and violent shows grew. He then struck out on his own with current guitarist — and a favorite of The Melvins’ King Buzzo — Dave “Shep” Shepherd, along with original drummer Travis Owen, who years later helped launch Atlanta’s noise lords Whores. Former Buzzov*en drummer Ramzi Ateyeh joined Weedeater in 2019. After creeping along for more than two decades, the band has not sped up at all.
This should be apparent around three minutes into the Weedeater show Friday, Aug. 6, at El Rocko Lounge. The band is often placed in the sludge metal category, which is a fair assessment, but this is the thickest, heaviest sludge out there. It’s a shredded oil tanker full of sludge moving through a shallow stream of glue and huge chunks of other shredded oil tankers. The music is slow and grinding when it isn’t slow and pounding, and few do it better.
Weedeater is best experienced live, but for those interested in listening, Collins recommends “God Luck and Good Speed,” 2007, and “Jason…The Dragon,” 2011. Each were recorded by the legendary Steve Albini, who also recorded Nirvana’s “In Utero” and has worked with PJ Harvey, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Helmet, Melt-Banana, Fugazi and Pixies. Albini is known for exacting standards and not mincing words about unprepared or unskilled musicians. To their credit, he named Weedeater the easiest bands to work with.
“When I first heard that I thought it was cool, but then I was like…what does he mean by that? Are we super easy or just dumb?” Colling laughs. “But Steve’s a great guy, and he’s the best at capturing that live sound and mic placement. And we’re essentially a live band.”
Collins grew up a punk rock kid listening to Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys and Circle Jerks. He was exposed to underground music by a friend’s older sister, an East Carolina U student who regularly taped and shared a punk and metal radio show. It opened his eyes. His existing mainstream tastes at the time steered him to Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, and it’s no coincidence both bands include outstanding bass players who also write. Like most teens at the time and place, country, classic and southern rock were always a part of the sound menu. But those cassette tapes with bands like Anti-Nowhere League and a general “F. You” attitude fed his curiosity. The release of Black Flag’s “My War,” with its notoriously slow and crushing Side B — an early example of sludge metal — sealed the deal.
Despite Collins’ love of what he calls cavemetal, there will be more variety at El Rocko than you might expect. Touring with Weedeater are Adam Faucett and Joe Buck Yourself. Collins describes Faucett as “kind of singer-songwriter, along the lines of John Prine or Townes Van Zandt, but a little bit heavier.” A review of Faucett’s work confirms this. He’s a bit hard to describe, but very interesting, soulful and worth checking out.
“We like to mix stuff up and not have everything loud bombastic metal,” Collins explained. “I don’t like to go to shows and see four of the same thing and I imagine other people might feel the same way.”
Weedeater has played with Joe Buck before and Collins knows how crowds respond to the evil country punk one-man-band and veteran of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, Hank Williams III, and Assjack.
“We’ve played one-off shows before, but this is the first time we’re doing a run with him,” Collins said. “I love Joe, he’s a great dude. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Savannah hard rock innovators Sins of Godless Men kick things off at the oddly-precise 7:20 pm. Does Humboldt County local time come into play here? Consider this and all possibilities at a rock-and-roll rollercoaster of a show with the slowest ending you’ve ever seen.
AURA Fest presents Weedeater, Joe Buck Yourself, Adam Faucett and Sins of Godless Men at 7:20 p.m., Friday Aug. 6 at El Rocko Lounge.